Outdoor Recreation Leadership: Earn a Hands-on Outdoor Recreation Degree in the Colorado Mountains

Follow your passion — live and learn at the highest elevation campus in the U.S.

For 22 years, CMC's outdoor adventure degree program has been transforming students into leaders. Students interested in an outdoor recreation degree can get the skills and knowledge to develop and lead people in the outdoors with our two-year outdoor education program. As you earn your Outdoor Recreation Leadership degree you will learn wilderness skills and gain confidence in leadership situations. We stress low-impact techniques for responsible environmental stewardship. This two-year outdoor education school teaches:

  • Wilderness studies
  • Business and management principles
  • Group development
  • Leadership theory
  • Communication & Conflict resolution
  • Safe and efficient travel
  • Leave no trace

Mountain learning, mountain living in Leadville, Colorado

Leadville, Colorado is the place if you love the outdoors. Our school in Leadville specializes in outdoor and environmental programs in a spectacular mountain setting. With over 250 acres, the campus has miles of cross country ski trails that are maintained by students in the Ski Area Operations program.

Our residence halls encompass spectacular views of the two highest mountains in Colorado. Classrooms feature state-of-the art technology, computer labs. There's also a cybercafe/bookstore. The Timberline Analytical Lab has high-end precision instruments and equipment unique to a college offering associate degrees.

What ORL careers are available?

Our hands-on approach to learning Outdoor Recreation Leadership prepares you to enter the job market immediately following graduation, to transfer to a four-year institution, or stay right here and complete a Bachelors degree in Sustainability Studies or Business.

  • Adventure travel planners
  • Nature and outdoor center guides
  • Wilderness instructors
  • Forestry technicians
  • Outdoor recreation retail business owners or managers
  • Resort recreation or camp leaders

Get Started in Outdoor Recreation Leadership

Academics and outdoor adventures are both integral to the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Mountain College provides outdoor gear and safety equipment such as ropes, harnesses, hardware, tents and cooking equipment.

Students applying to the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program must demonstrate college-level proficiency skills through ACT scores, college transcripts or the Accuplacer placement test, administered by Colorado Mountain College. We recommend that you take one of these tests as soon as possible because inadequate skills in reading, writing and mathematics may require you to enroll in developmental courses. This may affect your acceptance into the program.

This program has certain physical and academic standards (pdf) which you will be required to meet before you are admitted to the program. Students accepted into the college's vocational programs must be physically, mentally, and emotionally self-supportive with reasonable accommodations. If there is a concern about meeting the physical and academic standard, students need to contact the Disability Services  Coordinator who will determine the student's ability to participate in this program.

Colorado Mountain College is an open enrollment college. Transfer students should have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale at previous colleges.

photo - outdoor recreation leadership groupHands-on Learning for Outdoor Recreation Leadership

Learn outdoor leadership skills with hands-on experience in the wilderness at Colorado Mountain College

Learn outdoor leadership skills with pack on or paddle in-hand. You will practice leading and following others while traveling on high mountain peaks, glaciated valleys, the canyons of the Southwest, wild rivers, and beautiful desert environments.

Technical outdoor leadership skills include:

  • Rock, snow, and ice climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Rafting
  • Canoeing
  • Backcountry and telemark skiing

Hands-on outdoor leadership courses also give you the opportunity to:

  • Assess the skill levels of others
  • Master winter camping survival
  • Navigate whitewater
  • Design outdoor programs for safety
  • Learn how to market and coordinate your activities, minimize environmental impact and coordinate with agencies who issue permits.

Being able to respond quickly to any emergency is an essential skill of any good leader. Your training will include mountain rescue, emergency response and water safety instruction.

You'll also have the chance to get a summer job with the likes of the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Fourteener Initiative, and adventure companies and outdoor organizations such as The Student Conservation Association. Valuable work experience plus the opportunity to earn Wilderness First Responder, Swift Water Rescue, and Avalanche certifications puts our students ahead of the game.

And because Colorado Mountain College students are so well prepared, they are in high demand for these jobs. They find positions as raft guides, ski instructors, sea kayaking guides, park rangers, interpreters and camp counselors to name a few.

Get the knowledge and real-life experience you need before graduation! Colorado Mountain College prepares you to find immediate employment, or transfer to a four-year institution.

All or part of this operation is conducted on Public Lands and Waters under special permits and agreements from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.